Kailas - Tibet's Sacred Peak
- A classic trekking holiday to Tibet and Mount Kailas
- Excellent 5-day Mount Kailas circuit trek
- Enter Tibet from Simikot in Nepal
- Dip in the holy lake of Manasarovar
- Chill out in Kathmandu at the end of the trek
In the remote Ngari Province in far western Tibet, an area which is too high to support agriculture and which is home only to nomadic Drogpa herdsmen, lies the strikingly symmetrical Mount Kailas (6714m) which is revered by the devout of several religions - Tibetans call the mountain Kang Rinpoche (Precious Jewel of the Snows), whilst both Buddhists and Hindus see the mountain as the earthly manifestation of Mount Meru - the spiritual centre of the universe. Pilgrims make their way to this sacred peak from as far away as Bhutan and Ladakh, believing that the sins of a lifetime can be washed away simply by completing a circuit trek of the mountain.
KE offer two distinctly different trekking holidays leading to the circumambulation or ‘kora' of the sacred mountain of Kailas. Our Autumn departure (KTO) treks to Kailas in Tibet from Nepal following an ancient pilgrimage route and this is certainly a most interesting way to approach the mountain. Flying into the airstrip at Simikot, we then trek through the high valleys of Humla to the Tibetan Border town of Purang, from where we will drive via the holy lake of Manasarovar to Darchen. Geographically speaking Humla is one of the westernmost of all the high valleys in Nepal, and lies along the Humla Karnali gorge close to the border with Tibet. The villages of the lowest sections of this remote valley are inhabited by people of Indian extraction, whilst the higher settlements are home to Bhotias who are of Tibetan origin. In the higher villages the traditional way of life is based on animal husbandry and the growing of a meagre barley crop, supplemented by cross-border trade with Tibet, a trade which used to extend as far as Lhasa and still reaches Kathmandu. Regular pilgrimage to sacred Mount Kailas and Lake Manasarovar is an important aspect of the lives of these hardy folk. Trails in this area have long been important trading routes between Nepal and Tibet, and the main passes are passable for loaded yaks and thus no serious obstacle for a trekking party. From the Nara Lagna Pass (4600m), which we cross shortly before reaching the Tibetan Border, the mountains of Central Tibet can be seen stretching away to the horizon - arid, bleak and thoroughly enticing.
The trek route around Kailas, known as the ‘kora' is 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and involves the crossing of a 5600 metre (18,370 foot) pass. However, our leisurely trekking pace will give us plenty of time to enjoy the experience, to visit the three important monasteries on the route, take lots of photographs, and interact with the Tibetan pilgrims with whom we are sharing the trail. It is worth noting that many Tibetan pilgrims complete the circuit trek in a single long day, and go on to do several circuits before returning to their homelands. More than a touring trip, whichever approach to Kailas is used, this is a unique travel experience which will long be remembered.
Is this holiday for you?
The trek from Simikot to the Tibetan border is not particularly difficult or sustained. The average walking day is around 6 to 7 hours though there may some longer days. In general the underfoot conditions are good and we follow a well established trail. It should be noted however that trekking at altitude makes more physical demands than the equivalent terrain at lower elevations. During the 5-day circuit trek of Mount Kailas, we will be following excellent trails used by the thousands of pilgrims who complete the route each year. Although short, this trek does present a reasonably tough proposition on account of the altitude. We will be averaging just 10 kilometres (6 miles) per day. The high point of the walk is at the Drolma La (5600 metres) and our highest camp will be at Jarok Donkhang - at 5250 metres. The trek is suitable for most regular hill-walkers and those with a good level of fitness.